Effects of End-of-Life Discussions on the Mental Health of Bereaved Family Members and Quality of Patient Death and Care

Takashi Yamaguchi, Isseki Maeda, Yutaka Hatano, Masanori Mori, Yasuo Shima, Satoru Tsuneto, Yoshiyuki Kizawa, Tatsuya Morita, Takuhiro Yamaguchi, Maho Aoyama, Mitsunori Miyashita

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61 Citations (Scopus)


Context End-of-life discussions are crucial for providing appropriate care to patients with advanced cancer at the end of their lives. Objectives The objective of this study was to explore associations between end-of-life discussions and bereaved families’ depression and complicated grief and the quality of patient death and end-of-life care. Methods A nationwide questionnaire survey of bereaved family members was conducted between May and July 2014. A total of 13,711 bereaved family members of cancer patients who were cared for by specialist palliative care services at 75 institutions throughout Japan and died before January 2014 participated. We evaluated the prevalence of depression (defined as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 ≥ 10) and complicated grief (defined as the Brief Grief Questionnaire ≥ 8) in bereaved family members. Moreover, we evaluated the quality of death and end-of-life care with the Good Death Inventory and the Care Evaluation Scale, respectively. Results A total of 9123 questionnaires were returned (response rate 67%), and 80.6% of the respondents reported that they had end-of-life discussions. After propensity score–weighted adjustment, the results showed that bereaved family members who had end-of-life discussions had a lower frequently of depression (17.3% vs. 21.6%; P < 0.001) and complicated grief (13.7% vs. 15.9%; P = 0.03). End-of-life discussions were associated with better quality of death (the Good Death Inventory score, 47.2 ± 8.5 vs. 46.1 ± 9.4; P < 0.001) and end-of-life care (the Care Evaluation Scale score, 84.1 ± 11.4 vs. 78.9 ± 14.3; P < 0.001). Conclusion End-of-life discussions may contribute to reducing depression and complicated grief in bereaved family members and enable patients to experience quality end-of-life care and a good death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-26.e1
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul


  • End-of-life discussion
  • bereaved family
  • cancer
  • complicated grief
  • depression
  • quality of death


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